Preventing and Repairing Hardwood Scratches
How-To and Tips
Hardwood flooring is durable enough to last until your grandchildren move into your home decades from now. Still, it’s a natural product and it can be easily damaged if you don’t take the necessary steps to prevent or fix hardwood scratches.
Preventing Hardwood Flooring Scratches
Perhaps the best way to keep your flooring looking like new is to stop scratches from ever happening in the first place. Remember these three “Fs” when protecting your floors from scratching.
One of the most common ways hardwood gets scratched is by having heavy objects dragged across the floor. Pushing your chair out from the table, moving your couch as you plop down after a hard day at work, or dragging a trash can across the floor can leave scratches. To prevent this from happening without walking on pins and needles, add felt pads to the legs and bottom of your furniture immediately after installation.
Furniture with caster wheels can be damaging to an engineered or solid hardwood floor and generally not covered under warranty. If you want to keep your caster furniture, we recommend using protective wheel pads or cups and changing the casters to barrel-type or wide, flat glides.
Another danger to your hardwood’s appearance is your shoes. Stepping on hardwood in soccer cleats or high heels can dig into the wood. Even shoes that are seemingly gentle on your floors can cause damage. Tennis shoes can track in dust and dirt, making small scratches in the floors every time you take a step. Place carpets or rugs at entryways and make it a habit of taking off your shoes every time you enter.
You love your pets, but sometimes their nails can get a little too long. As they sprint across the floor to welcome you home after a long day, the nails could dig in and scratch while they slide in to greet you. Keeping your pet’s nails trimmed will help prevent scratches over time.
Fixing Hardwood Flooring Scratches
The good news is, fixing hardwood scratches isn’t as hard as it might seem as long as they’re caught early and before they’re too deep.
For minor scratches
Surface level scratches tend to be minor and can easily be repaired in a variety of ways.
- Use a wood filler or acrylic filler kit that matches the stain of your hardwood.
- Sanding the scratch away. You can sand the wood floor down to remove the light scratch using mineral spirits and a steel wool pad or sandpaper. Be sure to use the right grit of paper for your floor. Depending on the hardness and protective coating, you may need a finer or heaver grit from floor to floor. Rub along the grain, the length of the scratch. When you cannot see the scratch, top the rubbing with mineral spirits or wood filler.
- Use a q-tip to apply a matching finish. Apply a conservative amount of matching finish to smooth the scratch without creating any additional bumps or ridges.
- Get a repair wax kit. These often come with your pre-finished hardwood care kits. Follow the instructions to make a quick and easy repair.
Screen & Recoat
- If your hardwoods have been a victim of scratching and wear for several years, you may want to opt for a screen (or buffering) and recoat.
- Screening is a process of lightly buffering your hardwood so that a top coat of polyurethane will adhere to the flooring.
- This will bring shine and uniformity back to your floor that may have been dulled through wear and tear over the years.
For Deeper Scratching or Dents
If your floor was the victim of a deep or long scratch, you might need the help of a professional. Professionals have the equipment to either replace the damaged boards or do a more robust surface refinishing to repair the scratches.
Professionals can also help you get dents out of your hardwood floors. If a blunt force sunk a portion of your hardwood flooring, you might not have to replace it to make the repair. Sometimes, heat and moisture can help swell the dent back to size. If you’re not sure how to do this, it is best to employ the help of a contractor.